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Findings from around the Internet.


“Earth is the language planet”

February 18, 2015


I’m sometimes really surprised that people want to read my work as activist. I make artworks, objects, in an approximately conventional way, even if they are mostly videos. I’m always trying to drag big geopolitical or historical narratives into the realm of direct individual experience, and I even go so far as to find that kind of funny, that weird combination of scales: funny and also a bit painful. For example, The Neck puts together my bad childhood drawings where I didn’t understand how to draw a neck between the head and the body, and my dad’s black radical politics that he had at one time, some of which was great but sometimes we would go to political meetings and be told, “The man is the head of the household and the woman is the neck.” Jaki Liebezeit During A Power Cut Circa 1970 fuses the economic changes in the organization of capital that happened in the 1970s and a child listening to her parents’ records. The child is partly me and partly someone else—I wasn’t born yet in the 1970s, but someone I was in love with at the time was. I don’t see how any official politics can be any more important than the intensity of listening to music. Maybe, more than anything else, the videos are about rhythm. I fantasize that one day I will just make music.

What I’m saying is, my work is a kind of refusal of politics, as much as an affirmation of politics. But I want to take those things seriously. I’m not sneering at any of it. I ended up reading the neck as the idea of mediation, the impossibility of mediations between the image and the self, between a racial identity and the self, partly because maybe we don’t even know what’s really there, in the place of the self. I don’t think this follows the logic of activism at all. Those kinds of links are so insubstantial, they are almost arbitrary, something to do with memory, maybe, and I think they can only really happen in art or in a joke.

An artwork might change something I guess because of how it is received or how people carry the memory of it. When we’re talking about art changing anything, we’re talking about art changing a person, and what that person might do in response to this encounter with a work. There are definitely artworks that have changed me and not all of them were even works that I particularly liked.

Read More | “Artist Profile: Hannah Black”| Jesse Darling | Rhizome


“thank God for the asshole that Kanye has become”

February 16, 2015


I began to imagine the faces of those everyday white supremacists, so complacent and comfortable in their racial tyranny over the South, if they could have seen Kanye preparing to take the stage at the Grammys. Specifically, I imagined the faces of the editorial team of the Memphis Evening Scimitar. On June 4 1892, they wrote that:

“The chief cause of trouble between the races in the South is the Negro’s lack of manners. In the state of slavery he learned politeness from association with white people, who took pain to teach him. Since the emancipation came and the tie of mutual interest and regard between master and servant was broken, the Negro has drifted away into a state which is neither freedom nor bondage…he has taken up the idea that boorish insolence is independence, and the exercise of a decent degree of breeding toward white people is identical with servile submission….there are many Negroes who use every opportunity to make themselves offensive, particularly when they think it can be done with impunity.” (My italics.)

As I read this I thought of Kanye mounting those steps, I thought of these racists watching him, and as I sat at my kitchen table I allowed myself a quietly maniacal chuckle.  After all, if these editors could have created an algorithm that would have produced their worst nightmare, then it is pretty safe to say that it would have produced someone like Kanye West. (In fact, in the quoted paragraph above, they virtually prophesied his emergence.) Kanye does not even have the good grace to be humble about his talents. He lacks manners; he is frequently impolite; he is rude, boorish, offensive, intemperate, obstreperous and vulgar. And, as I read these words from 1892, I absolutely loved him for it.  Kanye is critically acclaimed, he is independently wealthy, he has the ear of millions whenever he opens that mouth of his, that awful goddamn mouth – in short, he is everything that the slavers feared the day they reluctantly unlocked that final yoke.

Read More | “God Bless Kanye West, and God Bless Ida B. Wells” | Musa Okwonga |


“While the capitalists are winning every battle between the two classes, they are nonetheless losing the war.”

January 15, 2015


Insofar as Thatcher spoke for the capitalist class, there is indeed no alternative: capitalism today cannot survive in the cramped confines of the nation state. However, there is an aspect of her declaration that also applies to the modern social forces of production created by capitalism. These social forces have never been national and have always compelled capital to take increasingly global forms.

How much SYRIZA simply reflects the truth as it appears within the logic of the bourgeois simpleton remains to be seen. But even accepting this still does not escape the fact that the social forces of production have today become entirely incompatible with the nation state and national politics. Which is to say, SYRIZA’s politics may ultimately turn out to be merely a progressive variant of neoliberalism — and this may just be a final expression of bourgeois politics, rather than a true anti-politics — but in any case politics is dead.

Since the 1980s the Left has pursued a strategy that not only rejects Thatcher’s declaration, but refuses to recognize the global character of production. In one effort after another the Left has sought to overthrow neoliberalism but always in favor of a return to national state management of the economy. The reason for this is quite understandable: neoliberalism has resulted in globalization of production at the expense of the working class. But this reasoning is not defensible, since globalization of the production process has continued to develop despite numerous efforts to prevent it by the Left.

Globalization is not a policy of the capitalists, it is a process of formation of a single world market that is imposed on both worker and capitalist alike by development of the productive forces bound up with capital. Properly understood, neoliberalism is a policy where by the costs of this irresistable globalization is imposed on the working class by the capitalists.

While nothing can prevent globalization of production, there is nothing that states this globalization need take a neoliberal form. Globalization takes a neoliberal form because, even as globalization undercuts the nation state, the Left insists on relying on the nation state to counter neoliberalism. The very institution the Left relies on to fight the neoliberal impact of globalization is the one most fatally compromised by globalization itself.

Read More | “The historical context of Greece’s elections” | Jehu | The Real Movement


“they make their way down the wide, bleached sidewalks, followed at a distance by an unmarked police car”

January 6, 2015


The New Black Panther Party has made news in the past couple of years for putting a bounty on the head of George Zimmerman and intimidating voters in Philadelphia, where they canvassed for Obama and one member allegedly brandished a nightstick and shouted, “You are about to be ruled by a black man, cracker!” (The Department of Justice dropped the case.) Recently, the group has been pilloried—mostly on Fox News—as outside agitators in Ferguson. Since Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown, escaped indictment, two New Black Panthers in Ferguson have been brought to court on gun charges, though right-wing news outlets claim the men were actually planning to blow up the Gateway Arch and murder the Ferguson police chief. The surviving leadership of the original Black Panther Party has also repudiated the movement for inflammatory and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Bobby Seale, a founder, speculated to me that this new incarnation of his group is a front organization funded by right-wing money, “maybe by the Koch Brothers.” But despite the New Black Panther Party’s dismal reputation, in Dallas its members are, at least, the most thoughtful and professional revolutionaries around. They have a platform, an ideology, work as barbers and electricians, and are serious about their politics and the importance of being armed. “What you see in the media relates to them on a national level, but their organization is a lot different here on a local level,” Goodson tells me. Darren X says that his Party is trying to move away from the inflammatory rhetoric of its leadership and “transition from black power to all power to all the people.”

Read more | “The Revolutionary Gun Clubs Patrolling the Black Neighborhoods of Dallas” | Aaron Lake Smith | Vice


“The police weren’t “showing restraint,” there were simply too many of us to stop.”

December 12, 2014


As the cell door opens, 30 detainees erupt in applause.

“Where’d they get you?” one cellmate asks.

“Downtown,” I reply. “Is there any actual crime in NYC today?”

Protester 1: “Nope, just us professional agitators.”

Protester 2: “Hoodlums.”

Protesters 3: “Dudes that think that brother didn’t deserve to die, and that cop ain’t deserve to walk.”

Shortly after I’m processed, a female protester follows, passing our cell en route to hers, we erupt in cheers and she salutes us.

Minutes later a second woman passes but does not acknowledge our cheers. Louder we chant and still she avoids eye contact. She is visibly uncomfortable. And then we realize…

Protester 1: “She has no idea we’re with her protesting too, she just sees 30 dudes in a holding cell cheering at her.”

Protester 2: “She thought we were cat calling her!”

Protester 3: “Probably talkin to the other women now like ‘even in here these niggas can’t help themselves.’”

(We all laugh.)

Protester 4: “Put your fists up instead.”

As a group we decide: To stand, fists up, chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” in solidarity with all future female detainees.

Read More | “NYPD ‘Restraint’ and the Mass Detention of Peaceful #EricGarner Protesters” | Andrew J Padilla | Latino Rebels